761 was commissioned in 1952 as one of 70 members of the Victorian
Railway's R-class 4-6-4 "Hudson" main line passenger
locomotives. These locomotives were designed by Victorian Railways
and were urgently required by the post World War
2 period, however construction was delayed by competing priorities. Eventually construction was outsourced to
the North British Locomotive Company, Glasgow but, as with so many post-war
steam locomotives orders, delivery ultimately came years after the demand had
required. The R-class superseded the
A2-class 4-6-0 locomotives on fast passenger turns however the simultaneous
arrival of first-generation diesels reduced their usefulness and the
R-class was destined for relatively short lives and low mileages.
R 766 was
among the last of the class in traffic when withdrawn in 1968, many sisters
having already been scraped in prior years.
It was stored at Newport Workshops for some years before being
restored to operation for enthusiast railtour duties. I understand it is owned by "R766 Incorporated". During the 1990’s this locomotive was
maintained alongside the Steamrail Victoria loco fleet at Newport Workshops
and wore an attractive (but non-original) Canadian Red livery.
was later leased to West Coast Railway for operation on the 'Westcoaster'
trains between Melbourne and Warrnambool (together with R 711) and received
the name “City of Bendigo”. It was
planned at this stage to rebuild and modernise R 766 along the same lines
as R 711.
2005 came the interesting news that R 766 had been leased to the Hunter
Valley Railway Trust for movement to Branxton, NSW and conversion to
standard gauge. This work has
apparently been largely completed, featuring a few modifications such as
the replacement of the leading bogie spoked wheel centres with those of the
disc variety. Photographs from
Branxton in November 2014 showed the locomotive generally complete and apparently
being fettled and painted in preparation for service.
knowledge, firm plans for R 766 operations after overhaul are yet to be
announced. The progressive expansion
of standard gauge across Australia provides the opportunity for it to visit
all of the major cities and to enjoy a broad sphere of operation.
greatly appreciate contributions of news or recent photos for R 766 for
addition to this page.
provides further information about the Victorian Railways R-class locomotives.